How Jack and Jill Helped Solve the Holly Brick Wall

This post is dedicated to the memory of Paula Kelly Ward (1942-2022) who passed away on 28 July 2022. Her passion for genealogy research and the PETERS family is reflected in her work as well as that of the many she helped. She looked forward to seeing this DNA mystery solved.

Who was the father of Sanford H. HOLLY born in May 1847 in Franklin County, Virginia?

I didn’t set out to ask this research question or try to open the door in my cousin’s brick wall. The pieces of the puzzle came together with a bit of genealogy sleuthing, DNA tools, and curiosity on my part.

Sanford H. HOLLY (1847-1924)

Sanford H. HOLLY, born in Franklin County, Virginia, first married on 15 March 1864 at the age of 17.  The marriage register names Jack PETERS and Martha J. LOYD as his parents. In the remarks column, it is noted that the husband was illegitimate.1 This would explain why the groom’s surname was not PETERS.

Franklin County Register of Marriages entry for Sanford Holley and Elizabeth Ray

Why was his surname HOLLY? Martha Jane HOLLY, the daughter of James and Elizabeth HOLLY, married Thomas J. LOYD (LLOYD) in 1861.2 It was the only marriage found and indicates she was widowed. Was it assumed she was widowed as she had children?

Further research shows her parents, James HOLLY and Elizabeth RAFE married on 1 November 1809.3

Other researchers misread the marriage register entry and/or the marriage license of Sanford H. HOLLY and assumed his parents were Jack Peters HOLLY and Martha J. LOYD. I found the marriage register AFTER I suspected the PETERS connection. More about this later. Suspecting the connection helped me to look at the record differently than others had.

An image of the marriage license is attached to my cousin Laura’s tree. I was not able to locate this record online. The image has punched holes on the left side and appears to be the scan of a photocopy made of the original at the courthouse. The scanned record doesn’t include information on the husband being illegitimate. The parents’ names were written: Jack Peters & Martha J. Loyd. As with the entry in the register of marriages, the groom’s surname was HOLLY and it has been incorrectly assumed the father was a HOLLY. With this mistake, Jack PETERS became Jack Peters HOLLY.

On the 1900 census, Sanford’s birth month and year are listed as May 1847.4 It is more likely that he was born in May 1846 as he was not yet 18 in March 1864 when he married. For research purposes, I will assume he was born between May 1846 and May 1847.

Based on the information provided in his marriage record, Sanford was illegitimate and born about 1846-1847, his mother would have had a relationship with a man named Jack PETERS in 1845-1846. The father Jack would have been born about 1825 or earlier.

PETERS families of Franklin County, Virginia

Zachariah PETERS and his wife Kesiah LIVELY came to Franklin County around 1810 from Amherst County.5,6 There were other PETERS families in the Franklin County area. They were of German descent and not related to Zachariah PETERS of Amherst.

Paula Kelly Ward, a PETERS researcher, wrote in 2000:7

Franklin County VA had more than one Peters family. Two of these families were, without question, of German descent, and they and their descendants married other German families in the area.

What has been very interesting to me is that an analysis of these families reveals that Zachariah’s descendants did not marry any of the Peters of German descent nor any other German families in Franklin County VA. However, looking at a few cousin marriages, it appears that my Peters family definitely liked their own Peters family better than others!!! 😀

At any rate, Zachariah’s descendants did not marry into the German families in that area until the 20th century, and that is what caused the confusion in our Peters family research.

As will become clear later in this post, the German PETERS lines were not considered for this research question.

The candidates: PETERS-LIVELY grandsons

The male descendants of Zachariah PETERS and his wife Kesiah LIVELY were studied.

In 1846 Zachariah and Kesiah had four sons born between 1796 and 1810.

◉ Jordan, living in Fayette County, was 50 years old, father of 14 living children, and married 5 years to his 3rd wife.8

◉ William was about 48 years old, father of 4 children, and married 5 years to his second wife. He was in Franklin when he married in 1841.9 He was missed (or not yet found) in the 1840, 1850, and 1860 censuses. Further research is needed to prove he was living in 1846.

◉ Willis was 37 years old, married 17 years, and father of 8 children.

◉ Joseph was 36 years old, married 16 years, and father of 7 children.

These four men were all in marital relationships in 1846 with wives who were still bearing children. Although one of them could have strayed, it is more likely one of their sons could be Sanford’s father.

Jordan had sons who could have been the father of Sanford. William had sons born in 1826 (Owen) and 1828 (Henry) but they were not as likely to be the father of Sanford as Jordan’s sons. Willis and Joseph had sons but they were not old enough to be the father of Sanford born in 1846-1847.

Jordan had four sons who were 20 years or older in 1846: Henry, Zachariah, Stephen, and Jonathan. Henry and Stephen as well as two underage sons of Jordan were in Franklin County in 1845 on the personal property tax (PPT) lists.10 The two sons under 21 were Jonathan and James. Zachariah born in 1822 was not on the 1845 list.

Jordan moved his family to Fayette County around this time. He was on the PPT lists from 1846 to 1849. He lived in an area of Fayette that became Raleigh County in 1850.

◉  Henry b. 1821 was in Fayette County (now West Virginia) in February 1847 when he married.11

◉ Zachariah b. 1822 was in Franklin County on 27 November 1846 when he took out a bond with his future brother-in-law and on 3 December 1846 when he married Ally HALE.12

◉ Stephen b. 1824 was in Franklin County in January 1848 when he married.13

◉  Jonathan b. 1827 was likely with his father in Fayette County. He was not found on the 1850 census, i.e. he was not with his father. He didn’t marry until 1852 in Raleigh County (now West Virginia).14

It is unlikely that Henry, Stephen, or Jonathan went by Jack.

Jack PETERS

From Sanford’s marriage record we know that his father’s name was Jack PETERS.

Did Jordan’s son Zachariah PETERS (1822-1899) also go by the name Jack? Zachariah PETERS is the name seen on the census and in marriage records. No middle initial or nickname.

There are online trees with his name as Zachariah Jack PETERS or Zachariah Jackson PETERS. I searched for records that might include the nickname Jack or Zack or a middle name Jackson.

A civil war muster roll card was found for Zach PETERS. A private in the 21st
Virginia Cavalry, Capt. A. O. Dobyns’ Company, Peters’ Regiment, he
enlisted on 22 August 1863 at Floyd County Court House and was absent
with leave from January 1 to October 31, 1864. The reason for his absence was given as, “At home on wounded furlough, right leg amputated.” This matches the known information on Zachariah and shows that he also went by Zach.15

In 1870 Zachariah’s brother James wrote a letter in which he twice referred to him as Brother Zech.16

Zachariah was married three times and had at least 17 children between 1847 and 1895. Birth registers for Franklin begin in 1853. The early births were not registered. Most of the birth records have Zachariah as the father’s name. In three records, the father was seen as Zach or Zack: George born in 1854 (Zach), an unnamed daughter born in 1862 (Zack), and Martha Ella born in 1875 (Zack).17,18,19

Marriage records of Charles Robert PETERS and of Bessie Lee PETERS list Zach PETERS as the father.20,21

Death records of 13 children were found. The NC certificate of death of Charles Robert PETERS (1894-1961) gives W. J. PETERS as the father.22 This is an error as his birth record gives Z. Peters as the father. The certificate of death of James Jordan PETERS (1849-1927) names James Z. PETERS as the father. 23 This is the only record indicating the name James, likely an error on the part of the informant as no other records have been found with James as one of the names of Zachariah.

The certificates of death of Mary Jane PETERS (1852-1920) and Joseph Coleman PETERS (1865-1927) give the father’s name as Jackson PETERS.24,25 It is not unusual for the names of the parents on a certificate of death to be incorrect as the information is not being given by the decedent. However, it seems possible that Zachariah PETERS was also known as Jackson PETERS as two of his children’s death records have this name.

The memorial on Find A Grave lists his name as Zachariah Jackson PETERS.26 It doesn’t include a photo or documentation. Paula Kelly Ward shared a picture of the grave marker taken by Otis C. Scott on 20 November 2009. The name on the marker is Zachriah PETERS (sic, not Zachariah).

The research question has been asked and the known facts presented. The DNA evidence will now be revealed.

Jill

In mid-June, while reviewing and adding MRCAs to my DNA matches in the 50 cM range, a match with a peculiar username caught my attention. I’ll call her Jill. A tree is attached to the DNA with the names of her paternal grandparents but without dates and places. I’d looked at this match several times and wasn’t able to figure out how she fit into my tree.

While viewing Jill’s shared matches (also known as in common with or ICW), I noticed that my father’s paternal first cousin E.D. was on the list. My match with Jill is for 51 cM across 4 segments. As I have access to E.D.’s DNA, I know that Jill shares 61 cM across 3 segments with her. At the time, I thought this match might help solve the DEMPSEY brick wall I share with E.D. since she fell in the Extended Family range for E.D. and in the Distant Family range for me.

On Jill’s Ancestry profile, there is another tree (3 persons) with the names of her parents with dates of birth and death. I recognized her mother’s name, being a cousin to my father on his maternal line.

Jill is my 3C1R (third cousin once removed) through Moses, the son of my 3rd great-grandparents Jordan N. PETERS and Rachel PROFFITT and a 5C through Betsy, the daughter of my 4th great-grandparents Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY. In the chart below, Jill’s maternal grandfather shares all of the pink ancestors with me:

Jill’s maternal grandfather’s tree

Chart #1 (pedigree chart generated with Ancestral Quest 16)

This match is on my father’s maternal grandfather’s side. As can be seen in the charts below, my Dad and E.D. are first cousins and share only their paternal lines (blue and green in the charts below).

Dad’s Tree

Chart #2 (pedigree chart generated with Ancestral Quest 16)

E.D’s Tree

Chart #3 (pedigree chart generated with Ancestral Quest 16)

E.D.’s tree has been well researched by her deceased sister Geraldine Dempsey Workman (1931-2007). Her research was sent to me in 1992 and awakened my interest in genealogy.

How are Jill and E.D. related?

I have access to 3 tests of descendants of Earl Stanley DEMPSEY (1910-1968) and Thelma Mae HOLLY (1914-1959) through 3 of their 4 children. E.D. is their daughter, Laura is E.D.’s niece through her sister Geraldine, and Sheila is E.D.’s niece through her brother James. The fourth child, a son, didn’t have any known children. E.D. is the only living child of the couple.

E.D.’s mother Thelma Mae HOLLY has an NPE (non-paternity event, i.e. father unknown) on her paternal side. The father of Thelma’s grandfather Sanford H. HOLLY is unknown hence my research question at the beginning of this post.

Jill and I share the PETERS-PROFFITT and the PETERS-LIVELY couples as MRCA. E.D. and I share the DEMPSEY-INGRAM couple as MRCA. But which couple or individual does E.D. and Jill share as MRCA?

E.D.’s and my ICW matches

The ICW matches for E.D. and myself on AncestryDNA are associated with our shared ancestors William Henderson DEMPSEY and Laura Belle INGRAM and their lines back. Matches attributed to my PETERS-PROFFITT and PETERS-LIVELY ancestors are also showing up in the list of shared matches. However, none are assigned to PROFFITT-COCKRAM (the parents of Rachel PROFFITT, 3rd wife of Jordan N. PETERS). Therefore I continued my analysis by concentrating on the PETERS branch and not the PROFFITT branch of my tree.

E.D.’s raw DNA file was uploaded to GEDmatch in 2018. Only 8 of my matches with MRCA being PETERS-PROFFITT or PETERS-LIVELY were found on GEDmatch to be in common with E.D. None of these matches share segments with E.D. and myself, i.e. there are no triangulations. All of the segments that E.D. shares with me (and/or my brother) are matches on our paternal side.

Does E.D. have matches with descendants of the  PETERS-LIVELY couple?

Over the years, I’ve worked on several generations of descendants of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY, mainly following their son Jordan N. PETERS’ descendants. There was intermarriage in the line which makes the research a bit of a challenge. This can be seen in the case of Jill being a descendant of the PETERS-LIVELY couple through both of her paternal grandfather’s parents (see chart #1). This is only one example.

I’ve been working with E.D.’s test results since 2018. I imported her AncestryDNA matches, their shared matches, and their trees to Genome Mate Pro, an earlier version of GDAT (Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool). Her profile in GDAT has since been updated with new matches. Until now, I concentrated only on her paternal matches and ignored her maternal line.

Looking over E.D.’s maternal matches

With this new development, I began analyzing 300+ trees of maternal matches for E.D.  Concentrating on her closest HOLLY matches and their shared matches, I found that the connection to Jill is likely coming through E.D.’s great-grandfather Sanford H. HOLLY’s unknown father.

Not all matches have trees attached to their AncestryDNA or their profiles on Ancestry. The same is true for GEDmatch. By comparing associated family groups, trees were built out for matches with small trees. Having a large tree with many descendants of the ancestors of interest makes the tree-building process easier. For many of the incomplete trees, one person with the PETERS surname was enough to take the match back to the common ancestors. I use One2Tree to convert my pedigree tree to an ahnentafel list that I import into GDAT.

Maternal matches on the HOLLY branch

As I marked maternal matches for E.D. with MRCA and added notes, a picture began to develop. Each MRCA was given a group name identifying the shared ancestral couple. These are the groups with the number of matches found in parenthesis (data from July 2022):

◉ Dempsey-Holly (11) – all descendants of Earl and Thelma (324 to 2139 cM)
◉ Holly-Parrish (1) – 1C1R, a descendant of Thelma’s sister (437 cM)
◉ Holly-Wray (17) – descendants of Sanford’s 1st marriage (12 to 249 cM)
◉ Holly-Ray (22) – descendants of Sanford’s 2nd marriage (14 to 246 cM)
◉ Holly-Rafe (6) – descendants of Sanford’s maternal grandparents (33 to 57 cM)
◉ Peters-Lively (215) – descendants of Zachariah and Kesiah (8 to 113 cM)

The closest matches were for Dempsey-Holly: E.D.’s children, grandchildren, nieces, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews. These were followed by matches back through the HOLLY line to Holly-Rafe.

After finding the known ancestors, I was left with 215 matches in common with the HOLLY matches who are descendants of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY.

The German PETERS line of Franklin County

As trees were added, built out, and analyzed, the absence of matches descending from the German PETERS line in Franklin County made itself clear and that line was not considered for this research question.

Matches with PETERS-LIVELY

The PETERS-LIVELY group ranges from 112.8 cM across 5 segments down to 8 cM across 1 segment with an average of 32 cM. There are likely many more but I concentrated on matches with trees and over 40 cM. The number of generations back to the PETERS-LIVELY couple indicates the 4th cousin range (sharing 3rd great-grandparents).

More matches below 40 cM with PETERS-LIVELY in their trees were found using GDAT features to sort matches, search their trees, etc.

The PETERS-LIVELY matches were split further. These are the children of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY (the number of matches found in parenthesis):

◉ Jordan N. thru his 1st marriage to Troup (166)*
◉ Jordan N. thru his 3rd marriage to Proffitt (25)
◉ Mary (0)
◉ William (5)
◉ Elizabeth (7)
◉ Lucy (0)
◉ Willis (42)*
◉ Joseph (1)
◉ Nancy (3)
◉ Susan (0)

*Note: Jordan’s granddaughter through his son Zachariah married Willis’ son and 29 matches come from this union. They are included in the total for both Jordan (166) and Willis (42).

Narrowing down to PETERS-TROUP

The largest amount of matches are descendants of Jordan N. PETERS and his first wife Mary TROUP. These matches were split further by the children of this marriage:

◉ Cynthia (5)
◉ Henry T. (23)
◉ Zachariah (73)
◉ Stephen (1) (+2 need to be proven)
◉ Mary (22)
◉ Jonathan (16)
◉ James (7)
◉ Jane (marriage and children have not been proven)
◉ Martha Ann (2)
◉ William (17)

Zachariah is represented by more matches than any of the other children of the PETERS-TROUP couple. The PETERS families were large. Zachariah married three times and was the father of 16 children. His father, also married three times and was the father of 21.

E.D.’s matches from highest to 50 cM were clustered

Before continuing I’d like to share the results of another tool I use. With Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering tool, I clustered E.D.’s top 333 matches (50 cM and greater).

After adding MRCA notes from GDAT to the Excel sheet of the clustered matches, I identified the four grandparents and used colors for visualization. PGF=blue, PGM=green, MGF=pink, and MGM=yellow. Color highlighting is not a feature of Shared Clustering.

E.D.’s 50 cM and greater matches clustered using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering tool.

◉ Matches coming from the DEMPSEY branch were marked blue and lighter blue for more distant matches (Wood, Honaker, Wiseman).
◉ Matches coming from the INGRAM branch were marked green
◉ Matches coming from the HOLLY-RAY branch were marked bright pink
◉ Matches coming from the PARRISH branch were marked yellow
◉ Bright green indicates overlap in the DEMPSEY and INGRAM branches as two Dempsey brothers, William and Elijah, married Ingram sisters, Laura and Octavia.
◉ Purple is another group of matches that overlap. Descendants of DEMPSEY and HOLLY through the marriage of Samuel San HOLLY (son of Sanford) and Louisa A. DEMPSEY (a granddaughter of William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD).
◉ The large lighter pink cluster represents Sanford H. HOLLY’s unknown paternal branch. Matches here include Holly-Parrish(1), Holly-Ray(3), Peters-Troup(26), Peters-Lively(19), and matches without trees(17).

The DNA picture was becoming clearer. PETERS-TROUP and PETERS-LIVELY matches (50 cM and greater) point to the father of Sanford H. HOLLY being a PETERS.

DNA segments with PETERS-TROUP and PETERS-LIVELY

Very few of the E.D.’s matches on AncestryDNA have their raw DNA files uploaded to GEDmatch. Below are 13 matches who have their tests on GEDmatch and have been identified as descendants of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY.

Imagine what this would look like if the over 300 matches I’ve identified as descendants of PETERS-LIVELY AncestryDNA had their tests on GEDmatch or if Ancestry had a chromosome browser on their website.

Conclusion

And that is how Jack and Jill helped solve the Holly brick wall.

Taking into account the number of maternal matches E.D. has with descendants of Jordan N. PETERS and Mary TROUP in their trees, the DNA evidence clearly points to this couple being the grandparents of Sanford H. HOLLY. The largest group of matches are the descendants of their son Zachariah. Further, Zachariah PETERS seen as Jackson PETERS on the death records of two of his children may have also been called Jack PETERS.

Considering all of the above, it is likely that Zachariah PETERS (1822-1899) was the father of Sanford H. HOLLY (1847-1924).

© 2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62154/), citing Virginia, Marriage Registers, 1853–1935 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Franklin County Register of Marriages 1864, no page number, line 14, Sanford Holley and Elizabeth Ray (accessed 14 June 2022). 
  2. Ibid., Franklin County Register of Marriages 1861, no page number, line 1, Thomas J Loyd and Martha Jane Holly, married 21 Apr 1861 (accessed 27 July 2022). 
  3. Dodd, Jordan R., Et Al.; Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850, index-only database, Ancestry, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, 1 Nov 1809, James Holley and Elizabeth Rafe 
  4. 1900 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7602/), citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, Roll T623_1757, FHL microfilm 1241757; West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, enumeration district 12, sheet 32A, lines 15-28, household 533-539, John Stout household with his father-in-law Sanford Holly (accessed 27 July 2022). 
  5. Zachariah was first seen on the Franklin County PPT list in 1811. He was last in Amherst on the PPT list in 1804. From 1805 to 1810 he was not on Amherst or Franklin PPT lists. 
  6. 1810 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7613/), citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, Roll 68, FHL Film 0181428, image 43, Virginia, Amherst County, page 492, line 1, Zachariah Peters (accessed 16 November 2014). 
  7. Paula Kelly Ward, RootsWeb PETERS Mailing List, “[PETERS] Re: Franklin Co VA Peters: German or English? (was: Zachariah Peters)” dated 19 April 2000 (https://mlarchives.rootsweb.com/listindexes/emails?listname=peters&thread=31401154 : accessed 25 July 2022) 
  8. Virginia. Commissioner of the Revenue (Fayette County), “Personal property tax lists, 1831-1850,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch Microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 2024536, DGS 7849112, image 416 of 589, 1846 PPT, district of George Alderson, page 19, 3rd to last entry on page, Jordan Peters, 1 white male above 16 yrs (only column marked). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-19JW-8?cat=777450 : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  9. Franklin County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia., Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Marriage bonds 1813-1818, image 758 to 761 of 880, 1841 marriage bond William Peters and Jesse Edwards for the 27 March 1841 marriage of William to Lydia Kemplin and bride’s permission for William Peters to obtain the license. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9ZG-HJZD?i=758&cat=765574 : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  10. Virginia. Commissioner of the Revenue (Franklin County), “Personal property tax lists, 1786-1850,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch Microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 2024543, DGS 7849118, Personal property tax lists, 1842-1850, image 206 of 767, 1845 PPT, Robert Hairston dist., page 33, line 13, Apr 4, Jourden Peters 3 white males above 16, 1 horse, 1 clock. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQ2-39CM-Y?i=205&cat=776095 : accessed 21 July 2022). 
  11. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584764, image 210, Fayette County, Marriage Record 1831-1866, page 41, 5th entry, Henry T Peters and Rebecca F Clay married 2 Feb 1847 by James J Dolliver. (http://images.wvculture.org/584764/00210.jpg : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  12. Franklin County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia., Film 31523 Item 1, DGS 7578970, Marriage bonds register 1786-1853, image 95 of 608, page 77, line 3274, Zachariah Peters and Ally Hale, bond dated 27 Nov 1846, surety David Hale, married by John Bowman 3 Dec 1846. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-VX19?i=94 : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  13. Ibid., Film 31523 Item 1, DGS 7578970, Marriage bonds register 1786-1853, image 95 of 608, page 77, line 3270, Stephen Peters and Elizabeth Palmer, bond dated3 Jan 1848, surety Samuel T Palmer, married by Geo. W. Kelly on 13 Jan 1848. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-VX19?i=94 : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  14. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 598403, image 53, Marriage Record – Raleigh County, page 5, entry 6, 7 Jun 1852 (license) for Jonathan Peters and Catharine Dickens married 10 Jun 1852 by Fetin Ellison. (http://images.wvculture.org/598403/00053.jpg : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  15. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/publication/42/civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia), citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324,  Roll 168, Twenty-first Cavalry (Peters’ Regiment) > P > Peters, Zachariah > Page 4. (https://www.fold3.com/document.php?doc=7624373&xid=215&p=ma : accessed 1 October 2022). 
  16. James Peters (Boone County, West Virginia) to “Dear Brother” [Zachariah Peters], letter, 5 November 1870; held by Franklin County Virginia Historical Society, Rocky Mount, Virginia (copy received 9 June 2014 per email from Paula Kelley Ward). The recipient, “Zechariah Peters” is identified at the end of the letter. 
  17. “Virginia, U.S., Birth Registers, 1853-1911,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/418338:62153), citing Virginia, Birth Registers, 1853–1911at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Franklin County Register of Births 1854, page 29, line 24, 4 Jul 1854, Geo. W. Peters, male, alive, father Zach Peters, mother Alen Hale, informant Z Peters (accessed 22 July 2022). 
  18. Ibid., Franklin County Register of Births 1862, page 145, line 35, 23 Aug 1862, no name, female, white, stillborn, father Zack Peters, farmer, mother Ann Peters, informant Zack Peters father (accessed 25 July 2022). 
  19. Ibid., Franklin County Register of Births 1875, page 318, line 97, 26 Feb 1875, Martha E Peters, female, white, father Zack Peters, mother Narcissus Peters, informant father (accessed 22 July 2022). 
  20. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” index and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62154/), citing Virginia, Marriage Registers, 1853–1935 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Franklin County Register of Marriages 1924, no page number, line 177, 24 Dec 1924, Chas.Robt.Peters 30 single & Willie Mae Hash 22 single, groom’s parents Zack & N V Peters, bride’s parents W P & Roxie Hash, married by J W Wimbish (accessed 22 July 2022). 
  21. “Registers of births, marriages, deaths, 1853-1915; index to births, marriages, deaths, 1853-1898,” browse-only, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia., Film 31523 (Items 2-3) DGS 7578970, Register of marriages, nos. 1-2 1853-1915, image 590 of 608, line 7, 14 Aug 1912 Jehu Robt Booth and Bessie Lee Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-V6FL?i=589 : accessed 18 July 2022). 
  22. “North Carolina, U.S., Death Certificates, 1909-1976,” index and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1121/), Original data:North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina., Rockingham > 1961 > November > image 3 of 54 > Volume: 33, Page: 306, Charles R. Peters, died 2 No 1961, Rockingham, NC, age 67, born 1894, white (accessed 18 July 2022). 
  23. “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” index and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/9278/), citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, Certificate Number: 1927024373, James Jordan Peters, male, white, age 79, born 3 Mar 1848, died 22 Nov 1927 in Franklin, Virginia, father James Z Peters, mother Alley Hale, spouse Mary Jane Peters (accessed 1 October 2022). 
  24. Ibid., Certificate Number: 1920010546, Mary J Peters, female, white, age 69, born 9 Jun 1850, died 21 Apr 1920 in Floyd, Virginia, father Jackson Peters, mother Allie Hale (accessed 19 July 2022). 
  25. Ibid., Certificate Number: 1927017432, Joseph Coleman Peters, male, white, age 61, born 13 Nov 1865, died 26 Aug 1927 in Botetourt, Virginia, father Jackson Peters, spouse Lillian Peters (accessed 19 July 2022). 
  26. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/92078774/zachariah-jackson-peters: accessed 01 October 2022), memorial page for Zachariah Jackson Peters (14 May 1822–15 Feb 1899), Find a Grave Memorial ID 92078774, citing Peters Cemetery, Ferrum, Franklin County, Virginia, USA; Maintained by gardengirl (contributor 47349735). No photo of the marker as of 1 October 2022. 

Focusing on William A. W. Dempsey’s DNA Using Chromosomes Analysis and Segment Maps

I took a break from blogging to give myself time to work on a DNA problem. It was only supposed to be for a few weeks, a month tops. Except for my article on the flooding in our part of Europe, I haven’t posted any new content to my blog in two and a half months.

As many of my readers know, I’ve been doing genealogy for nearly three decades and blogging in my eighth year. Writing for my blog has taught me to be a better researcher and writer.

DNA is complicated

This may be one of the reasons people who have their DNA tested are more interested in their ethnicity than in looking into who they got their DNA from. Many are not into genealogy or have the time to spend hours analyzing match lists or creating quick bare-bones trees (also known as Q&D or quick-and-dirty trees) for matches. In writing this post, I hope to reach some of my many distant cousins who could help me with my search.

Understanding where the DNA comes from

I’ve been working with my brother’s autosomal DNA results for over five years, my own for nearly two years, and my mother’s for a year and a half. All three were done with AncestryDNA.

Maternal Matches

Mom’s test has helped sort the maternal matches but wasn’t really necessary. My brother and I have few matches who are descended from our maternal lines as our mother is Luxembourgish – with all known ancestors coming from Luxembourg or parts of France, Germany, and Belgium that were once part of a greater Luxembourg. Close cousins (4th cousins or closer) on AncestryDNA total 375 compared to the circa 3,000 that my brother and I have. Many of the 275 are descendants of Luxembourg emigrants who settled in America. Our mother is their link back to Luxembourg and helps anchor their DNA.

Paternal Matches

My brother’s and my autosomal DNA results have confirmed the paper trail we have for our known paternal ancestors for at least six generations. For some branches in the tree, we have confirmation for nine generations or more.

Color groups on AncestryDNA

To better understand where the DNA comes from, I worked out a color/group system on AncestryDNA that goes back to the 6th generation ancestors (my paternal 4th great-grandparents). This helps to sort new matches.

Screenshot courtesy of AncestryDNA.

As the parents of my 2nd great-grandfather, William A. W. DEMPSEY are unknown, the first group is for the 4th generation ancestors. This allowed me to split the HONAKER-WISEMAN matches into two sub-groups: HONEGGER-GOETZ (as HONAKER was previously written) and WISEMAN-DAVIS of the 7th generation. As can be seen by the numbers in parenthesis, these are large clusters of matches.

Abbreviations:
PGF – paternal grandfather (blue)
PGM – paternal grandmother (green)
MGF – maternal grandfather (pink)
MGM -maternal grandmother (yellow)

Using colors in the family tree

The colors I use on AncestryDNA for the groups match the colors used in genealogy software charts.

The pedigree chart courtesy of Ancestral Quest 16

Mapping the DNA segments with GDAT

The same color system has been used to map our known DNA segments using the Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool or GDAT.

Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT)

Becky Mason Walker’s Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT) is the repository I use to manage my DNA tests.

The database is stored locally on my computer and has no connection to the internet. I can import DNA matches from the different testing companies, do triangulation and in common with (ICW) comparisons, map the chromosomes of common ancestors, mark the most recent common ancestors (MRCA), add Ahnentafels (tress) of the matches, and do analysis work that helps with the family tree research. The tool provides easier-to-see patterns and clues to solve the genetic genealogy questions with all information in one place.

Segment Maps

I’ve mentioned the color groups, Shared Clustering, and GDAT in previous posts.

Look Who’s Finally Taken the Autosomal DNA Test

Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (Part 3)

Mapping DNA segments is something I haven’t written about.

GDAT automatically maps DNA segments when the MRCA (parental/maternal side and group name) is identified. GDAT chooses the color for the segment but allows the user to change it using a color picker.

Autosomal DNA Segment Map courtesy of the Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT). Group names on right for MRCAs for surnames B-J.
Autosomal DNA Segment Map courtesy of the Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT). Group names on right for MRCAs for surnames K-W.

The DNA segment map shows the paternal (top) and maternal (bottom) sides of each chromosome. In the examples, the maternal side is mostly dark gray as we share WILDINGER-FOURNELLE (our grandparents/Mom’s parents) with our mother.

Although many of the maternal matches on AncestryDNA have been identified, very few segments can be added to the map as chromosome information is not available on Ancestry. Those seen are from FTDNA, MyHeritage, or GEDmatch.

This post is about my paternal matches and therefore only the top bar of each chromosome is of interest.

Comparing sibling DNA

The color groups on AncestryDNA as well as those in the family tree are used to map the DNA segments. For the example, below, the green, pink, and yellow groups have only two shades. I’ve kept these groups simple to show that siblings don’t share all of the same DNA. They share about 50% of the same DNA. Less color makes it easier to see the four groups of the grandparents.

My paternal grandfather’s paternal ancestry, the blue groups, include purple for first cousins who share all four color groups and red to highlight our DEMPSEY brick wall. A darker blue is used for second cousins and lighter blues for more distant cousins.

The maps show all segment matches that have been assigned a most recent common ancestor (MRCA).

Side by side comparison of siblings’ DNA segment maps for all generations.

On chromosome 1, my DNA segments are from my father’s paternal side: PGF (blue and red) and PGM (green). My brother received mostly DNA from our father’s maternal side: MGF (pink) and MGM (green). On chromosomes 5, 10, 17, and 19 we share more DNA from the same groups. Still, there are gaps – chromosomes segments that have not been identified (light gray, see chromosomes 6, 7, and 9). These are segments that could lead to several of the brick walls in our tree including the ancestry of William A. W. DEMPSEY.

The segment map in GDAT can be filtered by generation making it easy to see where segments are coming from.

Generation 2 (1st cousins)

Cathy’s segment map for 2 generations.

Purple segments are 1st cousins who share our paternal grandparents, Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP – the generation 2 ancestors. These include 1st cousins once removed (1C1R), matches from the younger generation. Seven of the 24 grandchildren of Fred and Myrtle are represented in this map. More would be ideal but I am happy to work with what I have.

Generation 3 (2nd cousins)

Cathy’s segment map for 3 generations.

The dark blue and pink segments cover the purple segments as they represent one generation further back.

Dark blue segments are 2nd cousins who share William Henderson DEMPSEY and Laura Belle INGRAM. Matches have been found for six of their eight children who had descendants.

Pink segments are 2nd cousins who share Walter Farmer ROOP and Rebecca Jane CLONCH. Three of their six children have tested descendants.

Generation 4 (3rd cousins)

Cathy’s segment map for 4 generations.

Red, more easily distinguishable from the rest of the blue groups, is for 3rd cousins who share MRCA William A. W. DEMPSEY (parents unknown) and Sarah Ann WOOD.

Green segments are the 3rd cousins who share Irvin Lewis INGRAM and Mary M. DEMPSEY (no known relationship to William A. W. DEMPSEY).

Pink segments are the 3rd cousins who share Gordon Washington ROOP and Milla Susan PETERS.

Yellow segments are the 3rd cousin matches back to Alexander CLONCH and Tabitha Ann COOLEY.

Chromosome Analysis

Adding another generation to the map further breaks down the larger segments shared with 1st and 2nd cousins and adds identification to some blank segments.

In the example for the 4th generation, the middle section of chromosome 1 now shows red where previously no color was seen. These are 3rd cousins who share the DEMPSEY-WOOD ancestors. This red section is not visible in the map showing all generations (see the first segment map earlier in this post) as it is a segment shared with matches who have more distant ancestors in common – ancestors of Sarah Ann WOOD, the wife of William A. W. DEMPSEY.

On this breakdown of the segments on Chr. 1, the red segment identified as generation 4 is also shared by matches who have HONAKER-GOETZ of generation 7 as MRCA. I received this DNA from Frederick HONAKER, father of Rachel HONAKER who married Elijah WOOD. This segment cannot be used to find more distant ancestors of my brick wall William A. W. DEMPSEY as the DNA is from his wife Sarah Ann WOOD, daughter of Rachel and Elijah.

Focusing on my father’s paternal grandfather’s side using the blue groups

What have I been doing these past two-plus months? I’ve been populating my DNA database with matches, trees, and notes. I’ve been focusing on my father’s paternal grandfather’s side using the blue groups. More specifically, I’ve been concentrating on the matches that, I hope, will lead to the parents of my 2nd great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY (1820-1867) of Rockbridge County, Virginia, and Fayette County, West Virginia (then part of old Virginia).

The amount of DNA we receive from a particular ancestor decreases with each generation. There is a chance that very little or no DNA was inherited from a specific ancestor. An ancestor did not pass on the same DNA to each of his children. Those children, with their different combinations of their parent’s DNA, passed on different combinations to each of their children. The more descendants tested, the more DNA can be matched to the ancestor.

I need more RED! I need 3rd cousins who descend from William A. W. DEMPSEY to transfer their raw data from AncestryDNA to FTDNA, MyHeritage, or GEDmatch so that I can analyze the DNA using a chromosome browser.

By paying close attention to the MRCAs and the segments shared with cousins, I’ve been able to eliminate those who are related to me through Sarah Ann WOOD’s ancestors. Those are the lighter blue segments that overlap the red segments.

Sarah’s ancestors came from lines where many descendants have tested. The Wood, McGraw, Honaker, and Wiseman families were large and intermarried. All four lived in Monroe County, West Virginia (then still part of Virginia) at the time it was created from Greenbrier County in 1799.

While I have large clusters of matches for these four families, the mysterious clusters that are associated with William A. W. DEMPSEY are confusing. I hope that some of his descendants may share one or the other of the light gray segments (non-assigned DNA). This would help to identify the area that I need to research to open the door to this brick wall.

Light gray segments (non-assigned DNA)

  • The gaps on the chromosome map have plenty of matches but the common ancestors in my tree haven’t been identified.
  • Some of the matches have ancestors in common with each other but these aren’t names found in my tree.
  • Many matches have small or no trees to work with.
  • I need confirmed cousins on the segment to help figure out where the mystery ancestors may fit in my family tree.

I’ve identified 87 3rd cousin matches descended from William A. W. DEMPSEY through my great-grand aunts and great-grand uncles. Of these 87, only 17 have their tests on sites with a chromosome browser. Do any of the others share non-assigned DNA segments with my brother or me?

What further complicates my William A. W. DEMPSEY brick wall is the fact that his descendants have more than one connection to me due to marriages of grandchildren and great-grandchildren to spouses who descend from other common ancestors, i.e. Wood, McGraw, Honaker, Wiseman, Sims, Johnson, Kincaid, Ingram, and my other Dempsey line.

Why not try Y-DNA?

My connection to William A. W. DEMPSEY is through my father (Fred), his father (Fred), his father’s father (William H.), his father’s father’s father (William A.W.). This would make the males in our family good candidates for Y-DNA testing. I have a paternal uncle, three brothers, and nine male first cousins who are descendants of William A. W. DEMPSEY. My grandfather Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY had six brothers; his father William Henderson DEMPSEY had three brothers.

I don’t feel comfortable asking relatives to do DNA tests, either autosomal or Y-DNA. I don’t have the time or want to put the effort into a Y-DNA project. However, if a direct-male descendant of William A. W. DEMPSEY has done the Y-DNA test or is planning on taking it, I would be happy to work with them on the genealogy side. I have a feeling the Y-DNA surname is not going to be DEMPSEY. Maybe someone can prove me wrong!

Why I wrote this post

When I write my ancestors’ stories, weaving the facts into the story and checking off the sources used, I usually find unanswered questions. Writing actually helps me think through things. So this post was primarily for me, to see if I am on the right track with the system and procedure I use for analyzing the DNA. If I can explain it and it makes sense (to me), I hope it also makes sense to my readers.

I know this is beyond beginner DNA. This might give you an idea of how, maybe a bit further down the road, you can work with your results. You might also be more advanced and able to give me some feedback on how you would treat a similar brick wall. Comments are always appreciated.

Lastly, I’d like to thank the cousins who’ve given me guest access to their DNA. I hope this will help them see how very helpful their data has been to me.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (Part 3)

George W. DEMPSEY, son of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING, was born in Amherst County, Virginia, about 1831. He moved to Fayette County about 1855 before West Virginia became a state. After the 1870 census, George disappeared or died without records. He was discussed in Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 1).

I hadn’t thought to investigate the whereabouts of George W. DEMPSEY, my 2nd great-granduncle until I discovered a group of DNA matches who descend from Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950). Her story was told in Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 2).

Mollie’s father was Wesley G. DEMPSTER, a man who appeared in Scott County, Virginia, shortly before the 1880 census. He likely died between 23 November 1886 and 15 December 1887. A death record was not found.

Mollie married at the age of 16 and had a family of nine children born between 1898 and 1917. Six of these children have descendants who’ve had their DNA tested. Descendants of the other three may have tested. They haven’t been found on the match lists of the tests I have access to.

Can DNA unravel the mystery of George W. Dempsey’s disappearance?

It’s complicated! I’ve been learning about DNA since the end of May 2016 when my brother turned his AncestryDNA test over to me. It has been a slow, uphill climb learning to work with the DNA results. I know this post may be hard to follow, I hope I haven’t made it too complicated. I’m assuming my readers have a basic understanding of autosomal DNA.

AncestryDNA

This is an example of one of my notes on Ancestry for a match:
[C8] 1C (Lois) Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP.
In brackets is the cluster number (from the first time I clustered my matches) followed by the level of cousinship. In parenthesis is the name of the child of the most recent common ancestors (MRCA) that the match descends from followed by the MRCA.

My private but searchable family tree is attached to the DNA tests I manage. Confirmed matches are connected in this tree. The tree is also used to work out unknown matches.

As I have few maternal matches and my mother has tested, all maternal matches are starred. This allows me to use all 24 colors for custom groups for my paternal matches. I created custom groups for each of my paternal 4th great-grandparent couples. The four blue colors were used a bit differently than the green, pink, and yellow as there is a brick wall at the 3rd great-grandparent level for my William A. W. DEMPSEY. He is not from the same line as Seaton Y. DEMPSEY.

16 custom color groups for the paternal 4th great-grandparent couples

Ancestral Quest’s Color Coding feature made it easy to work out the custom color groups on Ancestry.

My paternal grandfather’s pedigree.
My paternal grandmother’s pedigree.

Paternal first cousins share the DEMPSEY-ROOP couple with me and are given each of the 16 custom groups (4 shades of the 4 colors). Second cousins who share DEMPSEY-INGRAM receive 8 custom groups (4 shades of blue and of green). Third cousins who share INGRAM-DEMPSEY receive 4 custom groups (4 shades of green). This is one way to visually cluster matches.

Note: The same system can be used for both maternal and paternal matches. In this case, the 5th generation (3rd great-grandparents) is used instead of the 6th generation (4th great-grandparents) as seen in my example.

This is my top match in the group of matches who descend from Mollie on Ancestry. The top shared matches (ICW = in common with) with Match 1 are two of my first cousins with whom I share grandparents Fred R. DEMPSEY and Myrtle H. ROOP. The next two ICW matches are both 1C1R but not from the same generation. This is confirmed by the colored groups. The match with only blue and green is a 1C1R through my paternal grandfather’s parents.

AncestryDNA

I have guest or collaborator access to a few of my DEMPSEY cousins’ AncestryDNA. They have given me permission to use their tests as examples along with their first names or initials. In the image above, the two cousins with trees are the 1C1R (E.D.) and 1C (Laura) in the table below.

DNA matches descending from 6 of Mollie’s 9 children were found to match 6 tests I have access to. E.D. (1C1R) is my father’s paternal first cousin. She is a generation closer to Seaton and Clementine than myself, my brother, my first cousin Danny, and my second cousins, Laura and Sheila. The second cousins are E.D.’s nieces through two of her siblings. If they had been her children I would not have used them as they would carry the same DNA and would only duplicate the results. All of the cousins have their DNA uploaded to Gedmatch or MyHeritage except for Sheila.

Shared Clustering Tool

My brother’s and my AncestryDNA tests were clustered using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool. Clustering has given me a relatively good idea of where in the family tree a match or group of matches fit in.

Jonathan’s method uses all matches and shared matches (ICW) down to 6-8 cMs on Ancestry to form clusters that point to a shared ancestor. A cluster represents a DNA segment shared by the clustered matches. Even though Ancestry does not offer a chromosome browser, the segments can be ascertained (guessed) by comparing to matches who’ve transferred their AncestryDNA to FTDNA, MyHeritage, or Gedmatch.

The data needed for clustering was downloaded from Ancestry using the Shared Clustering Tool. I’ve been manually adding new matches since Jonathan disabled downloading of data from Ancestry in May 2020. Soon after this, Ancestry sent cease and desist orders to many third-party tools.

Early this month, I subscribed to DNAGedcom for $5/month to get an up-to-date list of matches and of ICW matches from Ancestry using the DNAGedcom Client. The ICW match list can be used to generate clusters using the Shared Clustering Tool.

Screenshot of part of a cluster report generated by Shared Clustering Tool. Clusters have a blue outline and may overlap. The green highlights in this clip were added later.
Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT)

Becky Mason Walker’s Genealogical DNA Analysis Tool (GDAT) is the repository I use to manage my DNA tests.

The database is stored locally on my computer and has no connection to the internet. I can import all DNA matches from the different testing companies, do triangulation and in common with (ICW) comparisons, map the chromosomes of common ancestors, mark the most recent common ancestors (MRCA), add Ahnentafels of the matches, and do analysis work that helps with the family tree research. With all information in one place, the tool provides easier-to-see patterns and clues to solve the genetic genealogy questions.

The Barron-Dempster matches who descend from Mollie were found to be in clusters [C54], [C29], [C30], and [C8]. All notes on Ancestry have been imported into GDAT. Since my notes begin with the cluster number, I can sort matches to view a list of only the relatives (matches) in a particular cluster.

Screenshot of GDAT Relative List sorted to show only [C54] matches with privatized names.
Cluster [C54] is large with over 400 matches ranging from 229 cMs down to 7 cMs. The identified relatives have the following MRCA: Dempsey-Ingram, Dempsey-Gowing, Going-Potter, and Crisp-Lucy. These are parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of Mary M. DEMPSEY, daughter of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING. The cluster appears to be pointing to the GOWING branch but the many matches that are still unknown will help to “walk the segment back” to the shared distant ancestor.

Of these over 400 matches, nine were found on sites with chromosome browsers. None of these have a confirmed MRCA but they share DNA on the same segment (different lengths) on chromosome 9. This segment is also shared with E.D., Danny, and Laura seen in the DNA comparison table (above, in the Ancestry section). The red segments (below) are Danny, his sister, and my Dad’s Lazarus kit. They share my paternal grandfather (PGF) and paternal grandmother’s (PGM) lines, i.e. DEMPSEY-ROOP. The blue segments are people who share only my PGM’s line, i.e. DEMPSEY-INGRAM, and include Laura and E.D.

Screenshot of GDAT Chromosome Browser information with privatized names.

Using the same process as above, I found:

  • [C29] includes about 200 matches. Only two in the cluster have chromosome data and share a segment on Chr. 6. An MRCA has not been found for either. The segment triangulates with a known 4C1R (George W.) Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING as well as E.D. Danny did not receive this segment but his sister (who did not test with Ancestry) is one of the matches who triangulate with the [C29] matches.
  • [C30] has about 100 matches. MRCAs in the cluster include Ingram-Dempsey(1), Dempsey-Gowing(20), Gowing-Crisp(3), Going-Potter(1), and Crisp-Lucy(4). The cluster is associated with a segment on Chr. 2 shared with E.D., Danny’s sister, and Laura.
  • [C8] has about 120 matches. This is E.D., Danny, and Laura’s cluster. They correlate with many other clusters but this is their main cluster. MRCAs in the cluster include Dempsey-Wood, Wood-Honaker, Wood-McGraw which suggest the cluster is coming from the PGF (blue) side. The two Barron-Dempster matches (Match 2 and 5, father and daughter) associated with this cluster share at two segments with several of us. One of these segments may have a distant connection to the blue side.

My brother received very little DNA shared with the Barron-Dempster matches – only a 12 cMs segment with Match 1 and 9 cMs of the same segment with Match 1a (child of 1).

Shared Clustering

Clusters fluctuate as new matches are added. Since my test was clustered in September 2019 many new matches have been added. I ran a new cluster report this week including all new matches and ICW matches since 2019 with 20 cMs or greater. In most cases, the matches in the original clusters have remained the same, i.e. are still clustering with the same matches. The new heatmap shows the two [C8] matches are now clustering with a [C29] and a [C30] match, on the edge of the larger [C29] cluster and correlating with a cluster made up of [C54] matches.

To give a clearer picture of the clusters, here is a screenshot of my E.D.’s heatmap. It was generated using the data of her top 333 matches with 50 cMs or higher. All of the Barron-Dempster matches (highlighted in green) over 50 cMs are found in this heatmap of clusters 4 through 8.

Screenshot of part of a report generated by Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool
  • Clusters 4 & 5 have descendants of Mary M. DEMPSEY, d/o Seaton
  • Cluster 6 has descendants of William S., George W., Martha Ann, and Julia DEMPSEY, all children of Seaton
  • Cluster 7 has a descendant of Geneva DEMPSEY, d/o Seaton
  • Cluster 8 has only Barron-Dempster descendants
  • The Barron-Dempster matches correlate only with clusters 4 through 8. They don’t correlate with clusters 1-3 or 9-33 (not seen in this close-up of the heatmap). The correlation can be seen by the red outside of the cluster boxes.
  • Of the 35 matches shown above, 6 are mystery matches, 8 are Barron-Dempster matches, and the rest are descendants of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING through six of their eight children. The two missing children are sons who served in the Civil War, died during or soon after the war, never married, and had no known descendants. The mystery matches, like the Barron-Dempster matches, correlate only with clusters 4 through 8 and are likely descendants of Seaton and Clementine through one of their children.
What Are the Odds?

I used the What Are the Odds? tool on DNA Painter to chart Mollie’s family tree down to her descendants who are matches. This is not the real purpose of the tool.

What Are the Odds? by DNA Painter

The matches, descendants of Mollie, are shaded green. I used my E.D.’s shared cMs amounts for all matches. The numbers in parenthesis are the range of cMs shared between the match and the other tests I have access to. The bottom row represents the line that I share with my cousins and is used for comparison: my great-great-grandmother Mary M. DEMPSEY, my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM, my grandfather Fred R. DEMPSEY and his brother Earl S. DEMPSEY, my father’s generation represented by E.D. (1C1R), and my generation (with my cousins and brother).

What Are the Odds? by DNA Painter

The WATO tool is used to check the probability that the amount of cM shared corresponds to the relationship in the tree. As I had already used it to chart the tree of the Barron-Dempster matches, I tried doing the reverse of what is intended with the tool. I used it to determine if the amount of cM shared by E.D. with the matches would place her in the correct position in our family tree.

  • Hypothesis 2: E.D. is the child of Hypothesis 1 and grandchild of Laura Belle INGRAM scored 9 (About 3 times more likely than the next hypothesis
    This is the most likely hypothesis.)
  • Hypothesis 3: E.D. is the child of Hypothesis 2 and grandchild of Hypothesis 1 scored 3 (About 3 times more likely than the next hypothesis)
  • Hypothesis 1: E.D. is the child of Laura Belle INGRAM and grandchild of Mary M. DEMPSEY scored 1 (Possible but not significantly more likely than the other hypotheses.)

Hypothesis 2 with a score of 9 is the most likely and puts E.D. in the right place in our family tree and shows that it is possible that Mollie was the grandchild of Seaton and Clementine.

How does Mollie fit into my family tree?

Genetic genealogy uses DNA testing along with traditional genealogy. Using all of the tools mentioned above as well as genealogy research, I have come to a conclusion on how Mollie fits into my family tree.

The cluster heatmap above shows the Barron-Dempster matches are relatives of my 1C1R E.D. and share the same ancestry as the DEMPSEY-GOWING matches. The same is true for the other tests I used in this example: my brother, Danny, Laura, Sheila, and myself. The WATO tool also backs up this assumption.

If the matches who descend from Mollie Lee DEMPSTER fit into the DEMPSEY-GOWING family group, could Wesley G. DEMPSTER be an alias for a son or nephew of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING?

I don’t think the relationship was a nephew as:

  1. Seaton’s brother Wilson M. DEMPSEY was found in the 1840 census with two persons in his household: himself and his wife. No children from the marriage that took place in 1839 and no children born before this marriage.
  2. Seaton’s brother Isham Coleman DEMPSEY married in 1827 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and removed to Ross County, Ohio, by 1830. He emigrated from Ohio to Missouri in 1854.
  3. Seaton’s brother Wesley G. DEMPSEY was likely with Seaton in 1830, wasn’t found in 1840, was single in 1850, married in 1856, and died in 1890. “W. G. Dempsey left surviving him no children nor the descendants of a child, no father, no mother, no brother, no sister” per a chancery case.
  4. Seaton’s sisters Louisa J. (md. 1840) and Eliza (md. 1843) were 18 or younger and it is not likely that one of them was the mother.
  5. As the clusters are pointing to the GOWING-CRISP branch of the DEMPSEY-GOWING family group, the matches are likely related through the GOWING side, i.e. other possibilities are the two sisters of Clementine GOWING.
  6. Clementine’s sister Emmeline GOWING married William Dison LAWHORNE in 1828 and in 1840 the only male child in their household has been identified and cannot be Wesley.
  7. Clementine’s sister Martha C. “Martissa” GOWING married Wyatt F. LILLY in 1833 and in 1840 the three male children have been identified and none can be Wesley.

I believe from about 1880 George W. DEMPSEY, the only living son of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING, used the alias Wesley G. DEMPSTER, and was the father of Mollie.

Consequently, Mollie Lee DEMPSTER would have been a half-sibling to George’s three children. Her descendants would share on average the same amount of DNA as the descendants of all of Seaton and Clementine’s other children. The amount shared with any of George’s descendants would not be greater as the common ancestral couple would be Seaton and Clementine. Early on in my analysis, I had not considered this and thought George’s descendants should have higher amounts of DNA which is not the case.

What else can I do to solve this mystery?

I haven’t exhausted the DNA tools to prove the possibility of Wesley G. DEMPSTER’s being the same person as George W. DEMPSEY. I’m just at a standstill as none of the Barron-Dempster matches are on any of the sites with chromosome browsers. Being able to compare the DNA segments would help to confirm I am on the right track or not.

I’ve sent messages to all of the matches. First, a short teaser asking if they were interested in figuring out who Mollie’s father was. Then messages to the same persons with the link to my second post in this series. I even mentioned the offer to upload their raw DNA file to MyHeritage and get FREE access to all DNA features. I’ve received no replies to date and none of the tests are showing up on MyHeritage. I’d hoped my messages were read even though no replies have been received.

I was only given access to E.D.’s AncestryDNA test last week. Maybe once I begin working more with her match list I will begin to make connections with people who are interested in solving the mystery.

Have I completely confused you? Have I piqued your interest in some of the tools I’m using for DNA analysis? Do you have a similar DNA mystery you are trying to solve?

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

2020 A Year in Review and What’s Coming in 2021

2020 A Year in Review

The year 2020 got off to a good start on my blog with The Ancestors series. The plan was to get back to working on my children’s 6th great-grandparents on a more regular basis AND write a single post about each set. The WOOD, McGRAW, HONEGGER, and WISEMAN 6th great-grandparents (all on my paternal side) were done before Luxembourg went into COVID19 lockdown in mid-March. As these distant ancestors become more difficult to research and write about, a single post is not always feasible as seen in my having to break up the HONEGGER post into two parts.

Four months later, only one post had been published. From August until October I worked on the earliest FOURNELLE family in my tree. After setting up the stageintroducing the main characters and supporting cast, I discussed each of the children of my 7th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL (1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (1657-1702). All of the posts can be found under the tab for Books: FOURNELLE Book.

A few how-to posts on using the block editor on WordPress, Luxembourg birth and marriage records, and an updated post on transferring AncestryDNA raw DNA files to Gedmatch got me to the end of the year.

Posts, Views, and Viewers

As you can see by the year in review, 2020 was not as productive as previous years on my blog. I wrote 33 posts compared to 50 in 2019 and 51 in 2018. Views were a bit lower than in the past two years but still 40,547. A total of 23,348 viewers visited my blog during the year. The number of followers grew from 500, a milestone reached in December 2019, to 544 by the end of 2020.

Top posts in 2020

Genealogy Toolbox: Links to West Virginia Land Deeds on FamilySearch

The Ancestors: Hans Jacob HONEGGER and Maria GOETZ (396+397)

The Ancestors: Isaac WISEMAN (1738-1818) and Elizabeth DAVIS (1738-1807)

Lëtz Research: How to Find Luxembourg Civil Birth Records

Dear Cousin – We Have a DNA Match, Now What? (Updated)

The Ancestors: Hans Jacob HONEGGER and Maria GOETZ (Part II)

The Ancestors: Bailey WOOD and Nancy, his wife (392 & 393)

Adding Footnotes to your WordPress Posts Using Block Editor

Strong Women: Mary, wife of Isaac WISEMAN († 1779)

From Luxembourg to America –
The Tempestuous Voyage of the Cornely Family

What I was up to in 2020

Even though it was quiet on my blog during the summer months, I was still busy.

Mom’s AncestryDNA results came in a few days before the first lockdown. I went through each of the steps I’d set up for my brother’s and my own test. The matches were clustered using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering Tool and notes with the cluster numbers were transferred to Ancestry. The raw DNA file was uploaded to FTDNA, MyHeritage, and Gedmatch. All DNA data (from the four sites) was imported into Genome Mate Pro, my major repository for DNA matches, trees, notes, correspondence, chromosome segments, mapping, and analysis.

I spent several Mondays in Walferdange at the Luxracines archive working with two other ladies from our genealogy society. With the archive being closed to the public, we had time to work on the inventory of the books in our collection, set up a classification system, and labeled all books with identifying numbers. The library was ready to receive visitors on an appointment basis due to COVIC19 restrictions. But before long we were once again under a soft lockdown and then a more strict lockdown at the end of the year. Other members of Luxracines were busy extracting marriages that took place in Belgium for people born in Luxembourg under the direction of our president Rob Deltgen.

I spent 241 hours (121 days out of 365) riding my racing bike with my husband. My longest activity was 114 kilometers. I rode a total of 5,657 kilometers while he chalked up 10,100 kilometers.

And still, I had time to keep up with new DNA matches. I developed a new color system for my AncestryDNA matches. It is so brilliant that I plan on sharing it in a future post. What I had before was good but this is even better – and transferred over to chromosome mapping it clearly shows from which of my father’s four grandparents matches with MRCAs are coming from.

What’s coming in 2021

Along with the last mentioned, I’d like to write about DNA discoveries and highlight the tools I’ve been using.

I hope I will be inspired by my mother’s DNA matches to work on my children’s 6th great-grandparents who have not yet been introduced here.

With two of her five children tested, Mom’s results include one 2C1R, three 3C2R, three 3C3R, and all other matches being “4th cousins or more distant.” Mom was an only child, had only three first cousins (1 paternal and 2 maternal), and her entire ancestry lies in the “greater” Luxembourg area. Clusters of matches include descendants of Luxembourg and German (from areas once part of Luxembourg) emigrants who for the most part settled in the US.

One FOURNELLE post still needs to be written on my 5th great-grandparents Pierre FOURNELLE (1713-1765) and Jeanne NEU (1723-1783) to complete the line between my grandmother Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE (1909-2005) and her most distant FOURNELLE ancestor.

These are things I would like to work on in 2021 but I’m not setting goals. 2020 taught us to slow down and enjoy what we can as long as we can. The year also brought blessings in the form of a granddaughter, our first grandchild.

Happy New Year 2021. May it be filled with hope and a brighter future.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Look Who’s Finally Taken the Autosomal DNA Test

It’s been several years since I wrote Look Who’s Using DNA for Genealogy Research. Thanks to my youngest brother I’ve been able to work with his results at AncestryDNA since the end of May 2016.

His test results have confirmed most of our known paternal lines back to the 4th and 5th great-grandparents. However, to date, I haven’t been able to open the door in My Most Frustrating Brick Wall, William A. W. DEMPSEY, our 2nd great-grandfather. My brother has matches with descendants of six of his seven children. We need their help to find the parents of William A. W. DEMPSEY.

I’ve Finally Had my DNA Tested

First of all, I want to thank my brother for sending me an AncestryDNA test.

I received it on August 21. I did the test, activated it, and sent it off the following day. I was a bit worried it had gotten lost until the notification arrived that the sample was received on September 10. Apparently, the time between mailing off and their acknowledging receipt can take up to five weeks. The sample was processed and DNA extracted on the 17th and analyzed on the 21st. The results were in the following day. This part took less time than I anticipated.

My DNA Results are Ready

I saw my results before being notified as I was doing my daily check of my brother’s most recent (above 20 cMs) matches. Often there are no new matches or only 4th cousins very close to the 20 cMs cutoff. This time he had a new match with 2,410 cMs across 68 segments!

I switched over to my profile to see if my match list was available. At the top of the list in the full sibling category was my brother. No surprise there. The matches that followed were the same two first cousins and dozen second cousin he also has as matches.

Setting Everything up for DNA Analysis

Since I’ve been working with my brother’s results for nearly three and a half years, I was ready to use all the tools necessary to gather and analyze my matches. The initial set up went as follows.

Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering tool

First, I ran a complete download of the matches (6 cMs and greater) on AncestryDNA using Jonathan Brecher’s Shared Clustering tool. This can take up to several hours.

Gedmatch, FTDNA, and MyHeritage

While I was waiting for the Shared Clustering tool to gather the matches, I downloaded the raw DNA file from Ancestry for upload to Gedmatch, FTDNA, and MyHeritage. It would be a few days before these three sites processed the data and my profiles there would be ready to work with. As soon as the kit was tokenized on Gedmatch, I ran a one-to-one comparison to see which segments my brother and I share.

Colin Thomson’s Pedigree Thief

I used the Chrome extension Pedigree Thief to download all matches 20 cMs and greater (4th cousin or closer) on AncestryDNA. The more distant 5th to 8th cousins will be gathered later. The Pedigree Thief generates a CSV file that I can download and use with the next tool.

Becky Mason Walker’s Genome Mate Pro

I’d already started to set up my profile in Genome Mate Pro (GMP), an app to help manage the data collected from the different platforms for autosomal DNA research. My GEDCOM had been uploaded and linked to my profile and the next step was to add the Match Keys. This involved adding the key values associated with my profile in the files from the various sources (AncestryDNA, Gedmatch, FTDNA, and MyHeritage). The AncestryDNA and Gedmatch keys were immediately available while I had to wait for FTDNA and MyHeritage to process the uploads before I could enter the keys from these sites.

The CSV file generated by the Pedigree Thief on AncestryDNA after gathering the matches was imported into GMP. A second CSV file of the shared matches of matches (gathering these takes several hours) was also added to GMP.

When FTDNA was completed, I downloaded the CSV file of matches and imported it into GMP. After paying $19 to unlock the AncestryDNA upload to FTDNA was I able to download the chromosome data file and import it into GMP.

MyHeritage will send a CSV file for matches and another for chromosome data per email when requested. Both of these files were uploaded to GMP.

When the Gedmatch kit completed processing I was able to copy/paste the One-To-Many DNA Comparison Results into GMP (list of top 3,000 matches). One-to-one Autosomal Comparison for the highest matches was generated one by one and copy/pasted into GMP. The rest of the matches’ chromosome data will wait until I pay for Tier 1 membership.

I didn’t use the Tier 1 utilities for my brother’s test as all data was imported before the switch to Genesis and then back to the new Gedmatch version. As new matches have been few I was able to import them individually. Gathering the chromosome data using one-to-one autosomal comparison of my test against nearly 3,000 matches would be too time-consuming.

Genome Mate Pro is now set up with matches from four platforms. I will continue to update on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on the site.

Back at AncestryDNA

Although AncestryDNA does not offer a chromosome browser, the new features they have implemented this year help sort through matches.

This is the system I’ve chosen for my profile. The maternal side of my tree is for the most part from Luxembourg. For my brother, I’ve found about 240 matches (of a total of 64,000) who are from the maternal side. The closest confirmed match is a 4C1R. Most of these maternal matches are descendants of Luxembourg emigrants in the USA. I’ve elected to use the star for sorting them on his profile as well as mine. All paternal matches will be grouped by colors.

I may be overthinking this but a similar system worked well for my brother’s matches. Ancestry does not offer enough groups (in my opinion) for this to work for everyone. Having mostly paternal matches allows me to disregard half of my tree. As can be seen in the pedigree chart the brick wall I mentioned earlier is in my father’s direct paternal line.

I’ve labeled a group for my 2nd great-grandparents as 4PGF Dempsey-Wood as they are four generations from me and on my paternal grandfather’s side. As I have only 7 sets of 3rd great-grandparents, I created groups for each of them indicating the generation, grandparent side, and number to keep them in order per the pedigree chart, i.e. 3 sets on the paternal grandfather and 4 sets on the paternal grandmother’s side. Then I created groups for 6 sets of 4th great-grandparents on my paternal grandfather’s side and 8 sets of 4th great-grandparents on my paternal grandmother’s side.

This left me with two free groups. One is a catch-all for matches that have not been figured out and is labeled !Needs to be worked out.

My goal is to have all 4th cousins or closer matches grouped so that when I view shared matches of a match I can more quickly evaluate where the connection may be. The groups beginning with 5 will become redundant and I can then use them for more distant generations.

Shared Clustering Report

The Shared Clustering tool gathered all matches 6 cMs or greater on AncestryDNA with at least three shared matches and generated a clustering report. I have a little over 56,000 matches on Ancestry. The Shared Clustering tool clustered 12,800 of these into 88 clusters.

As this download was done BEFORE I started to work with the matches the notes are blank, i.e. MRCA or other information is missing. Most of the clusters have known matches seen previously on my brother’s match list and his clusters. But there are several clusters of matches not seen on his test. This was my first sign of having inherited DNA from my father that my brother didn’t.

Each time the Shared Clustering tool is used to generate a cluster list the cluster numbers change. Therefore it’s important to keep notes on Ancestry which will help to determine the most distant common ancestor of a cluster.

One of my highest unknown matches is in Cluster 81 with 61 cMs across 2 segments. I’ve been working through all of the highest matches in this cluster adding their Ahnentafels to GMP with the help of the Pedigree Thief and color-coding them in the ![C81] temp 77 group – the last free group. When I figure out where in my tree this cluster is coming from I can change the color-code to the correct ancestral group and free up the group.

Time for a Call to Action

Now that I’ve set everything up, I can begin to work through my matches and find cousins who may help me open the doors in my brick walls. Are you seeing my name on your match list? I won’t be sending out messages for a while but will reply to any I receive!

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

It’s Time to Start Working on a New Generation

Early in 2018, I wrote the last post on a set of 4th great-grandparents. I closed the post with the following paragraph:

Family history research will never be finished or ready to publish. Share what you have, make corrections and additions, write about your ancestors. Yes, it probably will remain a work in progress or a draft of a family book. By sharing what you think is incomplete, you may reach someone who has the missing information or the key to open the door in your brick wall.

It took me a year to write about 48 sets of 4th great-grandparents = 32 of my husband’s and 16 of mine. In 2014, the first year I blogged, I wrote about all of my paternal ancestors from my father to my paternal 4th great-grandparents. They made up only a quarter of my children’s tree. As the stories were coming along so well I decided to continue with the rest of my children’s ancestors up to their 4th greats in 2015 and their 5th greats in 2017-2018.

The next logical step would be to do their 6th great-grandparents. Of the 128 sets, 15 are brick walls – 5 paternal and 10 maternal (with the 10 being American ancestors). If I limit research and writing to one set a week I could get them done in a little over two years.

These are the names of the ancestors divided into the paternal and maternal sides:

Our children’s paternal 6th great-grandparents:

(256 & 257) Adami MEDER and Elisabetha ESCH
(258 & 259) Joannes REINERS and wife Maria: Susanna LAMBERT’s parents
(260 & 261) Michaelis WILMES and Barbara JACQUEMIN
(262 & 263) Mr. SCHEID (SCHOOD) and Anna Maria FETH
(264 & 265) Brick Wall (paternal grandparents of Théodore REIFFER)
(266 & 267) Brick Wall (maternal grandparents of Théodore REIFFER)
(268 & 269) Joannes CLOOS and Anne Marie KLAREN
(270 & 271) Nikolaus THEWES and Gertrud LESSEN
(272 & 273) Joannis ADAM and Margaritha (first married to THOMMES)
(274 & 275) Jacobi WOLTER and Marie Elisabeth MEYERS
(276 & 277) Joannes SCHENTEN x KOECHER and Catharina KOSTERS
(278 & 279) Parents of Cathérine OBERECKEN
(280 & 281) Mathias LORENS and Eva FRENTZ
(282 & 283) Petri STENGENFORT and unknown wife
(284 & 285) Joannis PREISER and Anna Maria FETH
(286 & 286) Petrus SCHRANTZ and Anne Marie HAMEN
(288 & 289) Jean “Joannis” SCHWARTZ and Maria HEINZ
(290 & 291) Mathia HALER and Angela ALENTS
(292 & 293) Johann Gerard TRIERWEILER and Elisabeth KERSCH
(294 & 295) Carl HOFFMANN and Angela ROSPORT
(296 & 297) Philippi SCHMITT and Apollonia MATTES
(298 & 299) Matthias PLEIN and Margaretha VALERIUS
(300 & 301) Johann WOLLSCHEID and Anna Maria WILLWERT
(302 & 303) Johann BARTHELMES and Eva BARZEN
(304 & 305) Johann Peter GORGES and Anna Maria HORSCH
(306 & 307) Nikolaus RODENS and Anna SCHUE
(308 & 309) Brick Wall (parents of Caspar BOTZ)
(310 & 311) Brick Wall (parents of Magdalena MASEN)
(312 & 313) Nicolaus SCHERFF and Helena OTTO
(314 & 315) Dominique STEIMETZ and Helena “Magdalena” KOCH
(316 & 317) Daniel and Elisabetha CLEMENS
(318 & 319) Matthias WEBER and Anna Margaretha FEILEN
(320 & 321) Henri and Magdalena  CREMERS
(322 & 323) Joannes VENANDI and Maria HOSINGER
(324 & 325) Johann THIVELS alias FRIEDERICH and Catharina FEDERSPIEL
(326 & 327) Martin HUNTGES and Marguerite MAY
(328 & 329) Johann Heinrich “Henri” MERKES and Anna ROSS
(330 & 331) Anton WAGENER and Catharina PIRSCH
(332 & 333) Mathias HASTERT and Anne NIEDERKORN
(334 & 335) Jean SCHMIDT and Maria LENTZ
(336 & 337) Leonard GRITIUS and Marie NEIEN
(338 & 339) Jean SCHETTERT and Anna Catharina SCHAACK
(340 & 341) Jean Baptiste SCHAEFFER and Catherine SCHAACK
(342 & 343) Nicolas GREISCH and Susanne ROLLINGER
(344 & 345) Michel WECKERING and Anna Maria DALEYDEN
(346 & 347) Brick Wall (parents of Marguerite LASCHEID)
(348 & 349) Jacob BERNARD and Jeanne CAPPUS
(350 & 351) Valentin GREBER and Christina STEFFEN
(352 & 353) Dominique PEFFER and Marguerite SINTGEN
(354 & 355) Nicolas PIERRET and Anna Maria ROBINET
(356 & 357) Nicolas GRASSER vulgo REUTERS and Elisabetha WINANDY
(358 & 359) Léonard HOSCHEID and Marie Catharina REULAND
(360 & 361) Pierre ZWANG and Anne Marie HUSCHET
(362 & 363) Johann WELTER and Anna Maria FELTES
(364 & 365) Jean DHAM and Marie WELTER
(366 & 367) Nicolas KIMES and Anna Maria STRENG
(368 & 369) Peter MERTES and Marguerite BIVER
(370 & 371) Johann DONNEN and Barbara CHRITOPHORY
(372 & 373) Casparus ERPELDING and Gertrudes JEHNEN
(374 & 375) Peter CONRADT and Anna Catharina ROEDER
(376 & 377) Petrus RUCKERT and Anna Catharina SPEYER
(378 & 379) Petrus MICHELS and Susanna MARTIN aka MERTES
(380 & 381) Peter SCHMIT and Rosa CLEMENS
(382 & 383) Nicolas WEICKER and Anne Margarethe HARTMANN

Our children’s maternal 6th great-grandparents: The American families

(384 & 385) Brick Wall (great-grandparents of William A. W. DEMPSEY)
(386 & 387) Brick Wall (great-grandparents of William A. W. DEMPSEY)
(388 & 389) Brick Wall (great-grandparents of William A. W. DEMPSEY)
(390 & 391) Brick Wall (great-grandparents of William A. W. DEMPSEY)
(392 & 393) Bailey WOOD and Nancy, his wife
(394 & 395) Martin McGRAW and Margaret “Polly”, his wife
(396 & 397) Hans Jacob HONEGGER and Maria GOETZ
(398 & 399) Isaac WISEMAN and Elizabeth DAVIS
(400 & 401) Ester INGRAM – an assumption
(402 & 403) John KINCAID and Elizabeth Hannah GILLESPIE
(404 & 405) William JOHNSON Sr. and Amy NELSON
(406 & 407) James SIMS and his wife Phebe (written in 2018)
James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia
(see also link to page with all posts for James SIMS)
(408 & 409) Brick Wall DEMPSEY and his wife Susannah
(410 & 411) James LANDRUM and his unknown wife
(412 & 413) Phillip GOING and Judith POTTER
(414 & 415) William CRISP and his wife Lucy
(416 & 417) Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL (written in 2016)
Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ The Early Years in Maryland (1765-1793)
Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ The Years in Rockbridge (1793-1801)
Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ The Years in Rockbridge (1793-1801)
Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ At Home on the Old Henry Roop Place
Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ Family Life in Montgomery County, Virginia
The Last Will and Testament of Henry RUPE 1765-1845
Henry RUPE’s Estate and his Widow Catherine’s Last Days
A Date of Death for Catherine Barbara NOLL (1768-1859)
(418 & 419) Robert CARROLL and his wife Anne
(420 & 421) John LESTER II and Mary Ann TERRY
(422 & 423) Owen SUMNER and Sarah NEWTON
(424 & 425) John PETERS and wife – Can this be proven with DNA?
(426 & 427) Joseph LIVELY and Mary L. CASH
(428 & 429) Augustin PROFFITT and Elizabeth “Betsy” ROBERTSON
(430 & 431) Edward COCKRAM and his wife Mary
(432 & 433) Jeremiah CLAUNCH and his wife
(434 & 435) Brick wall (parents of Nancy BEASLEY)
(436 & 437) Brick Wall (paternal grandparents of Mary E. DOSS)
(438 & 439) James DOSS Jr. and Elizabeth LESTER
(440 & 441) BRICK WALL (paternal grandparents of John COOLEY)
(442 & 443) BRICK WALL (maternal grandparents of John COOLEY
(444 & 445) Edward TREDWAY and Nancy MAGNESS
(446 & 447) Brick Wall (maternal grandparents of Sarah Ann TREADWAY)

Our children’s maternal 6th great-grandparents: The families of the greater Luxembourg area

(448 & 449) Michel WILTINGER and Margaretha DIESBURG
(450 & 451) Michael WELTER and Katharian KLEIN
(452 & 453) Matthias SCHRAMEN and Anna Barbara LEIBRICH (BURG)
(454 & 455) Sebastian SCHMITT and Maria LORANG
(456 & 457) Nikolaus WEYMAN and Maria Katharina HUSS
(458 & 459) Gerard MALAMBRÉ and Barbara BIESDORF
(460 & 461) Johann Bernard WELTER and Maria BRIMERS
(462 & 463) Johann HENNES and Magdalena MÜLLER
(464 & 465) Peter BUBELREITER and Gertrud LAMBERTI or BOSEN
(466 & 467) Johann BOMMES and Anna Maria Luzia THIELEN
(468 & 469) Peter MERTSCHERT and Susanna “Anna” SCHNEIDER
(470 & 471) Theodor MERGEN and Gertrud THELEN
(472 & 473) Johann Nicolaus WAGNER and Anna Maria KLEIWER
(474 & 475) Johann HARTERT and Elisabeth HEINZ
(476 & 477) Peter KERSCHT and Eva SCHMIDS
(478 & 479) Gerhard EWEN and Barbara THEILEN
(480 & 481) Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU
(482 & 483) Jean SCHMIT and Eve DUCKER
(484 & 485) Jacques PHILIPPART and Catherine SINGER aka KETTER
(486 & 487) Henri MEUNIER and Margaretha KILBOUR
(488 & 489) Joseph SCHLOESSER and Catherine ARENDT
(490 & 491) Nicolas TRAUDT and Barbe BILL
(492 & 493) Johann CONSBRÜCK and Barbara SCHMIDT
(494 & 495) Sébastian LANSER and Maria Catharina HASTERT
(496 & 497) Nicolaus FRANTZ and Angela BARTEL
(498 & 499) Nicolaus KIEFFER and Susanna SCHILTZ
(500 & 501) Joannis FRISCH and Margaret ZEIMES
(502 & 503) Peter HUBERTY and Jonannata BEREND
(504 & 505) Jean MAJERUS and Margretha BREGER
(506 & 507) Hubert CORNELY and Margaretha EVEN
(508 & 509) Remacle TRAUSCH and Theresia BRAUN (COLLING)
(510 & 511) Johannes HAMES and Agnes HEITZ

Where should I begin? I believe each tiny twig on every small branch of the larger branches in the family tree is as important as the next. If I continued in the same order I’ve been writing about the previous generations, I’d start at the top of the lists above and work down. However, I want to get my Luxembourgish side done first!

My youngest brother turned over his AncestryDNA test to me three years ago. On our paternal side, my brother’s DNA has confirmed the paper trail is correct for the American lines and we have not had any surprises. However, the brick walls are still standing.

On our maternal side, matches are few. This is not surprising as these lines remained in Luxembourg up until my birth. Maternal matches on Ancestry are for the most part America descendants of Luxembourg emigrants from the 1800s. The highest maternal match is a 4th cousin once removed (4C1R) with 44 cMs on 3 segments. We share Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY, my 4th great-grandparents (children of 501 through 504).

Screenshot of my family tree on Ancestry with annotations.

This is how I’ve decided to proceed. Ancestry now shows a helix icon for the ancestors who are on the ThruLines™ in trees which are linked to DNA tests. In this screenshot, we see my maternal grandmother’s mother Catharina FRANTZ and all of her ancestors. On the right are the 5th great-grandparents from 496 to 511. Working from the bottom up I opened each to find the first couple with matches who share DNA with my brother and have the ancestor couple in their tree.

And the winner is…

Hubert CORNELY and Margaretha EVEN (506 & 507) have 8 suggested matches descending from three of their children.

  • Two of these matches have been proven as well as several more who do not have their trees linked to the DNA. A nice group of descendants split between a line which went to America and a line which moved from Luxembourg to Belgium to Switzerland to England.
  • Two matches come through a line in which I found an interesting phenomenon: a man who was married twice – to sisters – both with the same name. Yes, this has caused errors in online trees which need to be corrected.
  • Three matches share a very small amount of DNA with my brother (between 6-11 cMs). Their trees are incorrect and the common ancestors cannot be the CORNELY-EVEN couple.

Lëtz Research – Luxembourg Research

Researching Luxembourg families has become easier for me over the years. I have several advantages over the descendants of Luxembourg emigrants. As 3/4 of my children’s family tree is Luxembourgish, I’ve learned how to easily locate a civil or church record. I’m fluent in the languages used in Luxembourg records and have learned the most commonly used Latin terms. I had a great teacher in my father-in-law who helped me decipher the handwriting in the records during the early years. When all else fails, I have my genealogy society Luxracines and its members who are even more skilled in Luxembourg research.

It’s Time to Start Working on a New Generation

The posts may not be ready on a weekly basis. The objective is to get back to researching family groups with the intention of going back further in time on several lines which have not been researched. By starting out with the Luxembourg families, I hope to make connections with cousins descended from Luxembourg emigrants and interested in learning more about their roots in this beautiful country.

Next week I’ll begin my posts on my children’s 6th great-grandparents with Hubert CORNELY and Margaretha EVEN of Wickrange in the commune of Reckange-sur-Messe in Luxembourg.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Wowsers! Ancestry Fixed My ThruLines

Last Sunday I gave feedback to Ancestry on my ThruLines™. As I was writing the feedback message I realized it might be good material for a blog post. At the end of the feedback message, I let them know I might use it in a post.

Dear Ancestry, My Feedback on the Step Relationship Bug in ThruLines sat around in my drafts until Wednesday. I took a few moments to check my ThruLines™ as I’ve done every few days since they came out – getting more and more irritated.

Wowsers! Those ugly grrr!! images I’d added to my great-grandfather’s step-mother and all of her ancestors are missing.

Could it be Ancestry took my feedback into consideration and got the step-relationships fixed? Had they been ready to roll out a fix before or after I sent my feedback? Does it matter? Well, yes, I would like to know why it happened so quickly following the feedback I gave. I want to know if this step relationship bug in the ThruLines™ was solved for everyone or just for me.

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

I’m seeing Milla Susan PETERS as my great-great-grandmother. I’ve been hoping to see her ever since they gave me Nancy Elizabeth JOHNSON, the 2nd wife of Gordon Washington ROOP, as a potential 2nd-great-grandmother showing half-cousins as full cousins.

Why, you ask, was I so excited about one ancestor being corrected? One right ancestor means I should be seeing her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents in my ThruLines™. All of these ancestors are from lines with many descendants who have had their DNA tested.

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

Although Milla Susan’s ThruLines shows only two DNA matches, the next generations have many more matches:

  • 107 DNA matches through Jordan N. PETERS (father of Milla Susan)
  • 33 DNA matches through Rachel PROFFITT (mother of Milla Susan)
  • 68 DNA matches through Zachariah PETERS (father of Jordan)
  • 129 DNA matches through Kesiah LIVELY (mother of Jordan)
  • 113 DNA matches through David PROFFITT (father of Rachel)
  • 110 DNA matches through Sarah COCKRAM (mother of Rachel)
  • 123 DNA matches through Joseph LIVELY (father of Kesiah)
  • 128 DNA matches through Mary L. CASH (mother of Kesiah)
  • 97 DNA matches through Augustine “Austin” PROFFITT (father of David)
  • 97 DNA matches through Elizabeth “Betsy” ROBERTSON (mother of David)
  • 231 DNA matches through Edward COCKRAM (father of Sarah)
  • 232 DNA matches through Mary WORTHAM (mother of Sarah)

It’ll take time to confirm each match is a descendant of the ancestor he/she is listed under as the lines down are only as reliable as the trees ThruLines™ uses to make the connection. The large number of matches for the PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines was expected due to the families being large and having many descendants.

But wait! Not only was the step-relationship corrected for Milla Susan PETERS, but I am now seeing  <<drumroll>>

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as my 2nd great-grandparents. They’ve been missing from the ThruLines™ since they came out.

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

William is my most frustrating brick wall. Sarah Ann’s branch and all matches associated with it are very important. I hope they will help me to sort out all the matches for her side.  This would leave only matches which will point to William’s unknown parents and ancestry. At least that is the way I believe it should work. ThruLines™ is showing potential parents for him which I cannot accept at this time.

Sarah Ann WOOD’s ancestry is bringing in many matches which will also have to be verified.

  • 41 DNA matches through William A. W. DEMPSEY.
  • 45 DNA matches through Sarah Ann WOOD (wife of William A. W.)
  • 87 DNA matches through Elijah WOOD (father of Sarah Ann)
  • 93 DNA matches through Rachel HONAKER (mother of Sarah Ann)
  • 92 DNA matches through William WOOD (father of Elijah)
  • 90 DNA matches through Mary Ann McGRAW (mother of Elijah)
  • 162 DNA matches through Frederick HONAKER (father of Rachel)
  • 154 DNA matches through Rachel WISEMAN (mother of Rachel)
  • 70 DNA matches through Bailey WOOD (father of William)
  • 95 DNA matches through Nancy _____ (mother of William)
  • 147 DNA matches through Martin McGRAW (father of Mary Ann)
  • 109 DNA matches through Margaret “Polly” _____ (mother of Mary Ann)
  • 173 DNA matches through Hans Jacob HONEGGER (father of Frederick)
  • 30 DNA matches through Maria GOETZ (mother of Frederick)
  • 202 DNA matches through Isaac WISEMAN (father of Rachel)
  • 204 DNA matches through Elizabeth DAVIS (mother of Rachel)

Another New Feature

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

ThruLines™ are now connected to the tree linked to a DNA test. On the pedigree view of the tree, there is now a DNA symbol in on the left to turn on this feature which adds a little blue ThruLines™ icon next to the ancestors’ names. William, Sarah, and Milla are ThruLines™ ancestors but in the pedigree view above they haven’t been updated. I discovered this about the same time my ThruLines™ were fixed on Wednesday.

Did the feedback I sent on Sunday to Ancestry on the ThruLines™ help them to get this fixed? I will likely never know. But I believe this was a lesson in giving the best feedback possible to help the team to get ThruLines™ working correctly. As I wrote in my feedback to them, ThruLines™ could be a powerful tool.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Dear Ancestry, My Feedback on the Step Relationship Bug in ThruLines

This is the first of two posts on Ancestry‘s ThruLines™ regarding an issue I have had with the new feature.

Access to ThruLines Beta is available to customers without an Ancestry subscription for a limited time.

Unfortunately, hundreds of user trees on Ancestry cannot be taken into account when building ThruLines™. The Legal Genealogist went ballistic last Saturday and wrote How do we know? It’s an excellent post with an example of a user tree which cannot be taken seriously. Judy G. Russell recognized the errors in the tree but can a computer program do the same? I think not.

This is not meant to provoke negative comments concerning Ancestry and the features offered by them. This is about giving feedback concerning a known problem in hopes of getting positive results.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Dear Ancestry,

I have given feedback several times before [concerning the reason I am not satisfied with ThruLines] and will try to be more detailed as there is a bug in the system which has not been fixed.

I realize, at this time, ThruLines™ is a free tool on AncestryDNA. However, your long-time customers’ experience in family history research should be taken into account. We can work together to get this fixed.

The problem is a known bug in the system as other users have complained about it on social media. Some users who gave feedback say their ThruLines™ were “fixed” within days. I do not believe Ancestry has taken the step to go into one user’s ThruLines™ to fix this bug. I strongly believe it was a coincidence the users’ ThruLines™ were corrected after feedback. It is more likely another user’s tree, which was being used to build the connection between the ancestor and the match, had been corrected and this resolved the issue.

This is the issue I have with ThruLines™’ “step bug”

I am seeing a step-parent as the parent in the ThruLines™. The information is correct in my tree. No other tree is being used to create this ThruLines™ ancestor. Along with this step-parent, I am seeing all of her ancestors, unrelated to my line, as my ancestors in ThruLines™. Not as POTENTIAL ancestors with a dotted borders – they are being shown as ANCESTORS.

  1. The ancestor who is showing up incorrectly in ThruLines™ is:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.
  1. The pedigree of the incorrect person in my tree:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.

I’ve added images to her ancestors showing they are NOT the ancestors of the home person and/or test person. [This is so that I can quickly recognize them on ThruLines™.]

  1. This is her husband, my 2nd great-grandfather, in my tree. His information is correct and includes his two wives and their respective children:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.
  1. This is the pedigree of his first wife, my 2nd great-grandmother, who along with all of her ancestors are NOT showing up in my ThruLines™. There are many DNA matches for people who descend from her PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines, on the match list, but they are being ignored by ThruLines™.
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.

I want to stress that ONLY entries in my tree are being used for this (incorrect) ThruLines™ ancestor. No other user tree is being used to make this connection between the half-cousin matches whose relationship is incorrectly calculated to full cousins.

I understand the idea of ThruLines™ and believe it could be a powerful tool. One problem will always be the hundreds of trees which are incorrect due to sloppy research, i.e. accepting hints without looking at dates, places, names, etc.

However, in this case, the tree being used is correct and ThruLines™ is overriding my information and picking the wrong person in the tree. I have no experience in programming. I can only tell you where I am seeing the bug. I’m fully aware of the fact that detecting the source of the bug may be more difficult.

Thank you for your time. In hopes of a quick resolution to this problem,

Best wishes,
Cathy


I wrote the above last Sunday but didn’t want to post it on my blog without giving Ancestry had a bit more time to fix the issue.  This was the first time I included links to the specific areas where the “bug” was detected. Will this kind of feedback help resolve the issue I have with Ancestry‘s ThruLines™?

Don’t miss part two tomorrow.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Gathering Records to Tell the Story – An Update

Less than two hours after I posted Gathering Records to Tell the Story in late February my fourth cousin Ralph L. Hayes sent emails with images of the Chancery records for the 1864 divorce of John William CLONCH and Sarah Jane FOSTER – records which are not online.

Cousin Bait!

I was surprised and happy to finally see the records he had discovered years ago when he searched through old dusty unindexed boxes at the courthouse in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

In Gathering Records to Tell the Story, I shared the entry in the court records concerning the divorce of my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH from his first wife Mary Ellen LEMASTER. I’d only recently found this record and could not wait to share with my cousins who descend from the CLONCH line.

By sharing what I’d found I may have been subconsciously baiting cousins. Don’t we do this all the time? Sharing bits and pieces in hopes of a relative coming forward with new information. I wasn’t expecting Ralph to message me via Facebook so soon after I’d published the post. We hadn’t done email in 15 years but have been keeping up with each other via Facebook for 10 years.

It’s a complicated story

John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio. Many residents of Mason County crossed the Ohio River and state line to marry in Gallia. If Sarah Jane carried her first child to full term, she may have been with child when they married. Their son William Alexander was born on 2 October 1862. A year and a half later, about April 1864, a daughter was born to John and Sarah. By this time the marriage was already in trouble and divorce was the next step for Sarah.

I found a couple of entries in the Chancery orders and in a fee book concerning the divorce in 1864 when I located my ancestor Alex’s 1880 divorce records. My mentioning the 1864 documents in Ralph’s possession were not yet online pushed him to get in touch and email them to me.

In the meantime…

I’ve been a bit slow working on the documents as other things have kept me busy during the past few weeks.

I watched several of the 2019 RootsTech live sessions and got caught up in the DNA whirlwind caused by Ancestry and MyHeritage’s new tools. I’ve used up all 24 of the colors offered for grouping matches in the New & Improved DNA Matches (Beta). I’ve played with MyTreeTags on the small tree linked to the test I manage on Ancestry and found they are an excellent new tool for tree management. ThruLines™ is still aggravating me. They have a known problem with step-parents being considered as the ancestor. MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity did not take long to look at as only 29 matches were offered. Several were spot-on. Several were not. Their AutoClustering was a bit disappointing as I was already spoiled by Jonathan Brecher and his Shared Clustering tool.

Ralph said, “Go for it!” In the days to come, I’ll share the transcriptions of the records he sent from the chancery case Sarah Jane Clonch vs John W. Clonch.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

ThruLines™ Introduced by Ancestry: TrueLines or TrueLies?

Last week was an exciting week for many genealogists who attended the RootsTech conference or, like me, who followed the live stream from home. My interest was focused on DNA related news. Ancestry added MyTreeTags™, New & Improved DNA Matches, and ThruLines™ to their site. The most talked about is ThruLines™ which is available to customers without an Ancestry subscription for a limited time.

I found a few things about ThruLines™ which were helpful but there was something which upset me so much that I stopped checking. I took a few days to calm down before I gave feedback to Ancestry on their new ThruLines™ tool. First the good and the bad, then my feedback.

TrueLines or TrueLies?

There are several reasons for my snarky title. I may know and you may know that ThruLines™ is not the same as true lines or true lies. But do all users, especially those who are very new to family history research, realize this new feature is like the Ancestry Hints and Shared Ancestors Hints? It isn’t a fast and easy fix. We still need to do research.

The Positive

ThruLines™ has helped me to find two cousins descended from my great-grandmother Laura Belle INGRAM’s half-sister Ocie Ola INGRAM. Ocie has been ignored by many in their trees. The marriage of her mother to my great-great-grandfather Irvin Lewis INGRAM took place in 1888 and no 1900 census listing has been found to show the family group. As far as we know, they had only this one daughter. The marriage ended in divorce in 1904. I have tried to follow Ocie’s children and grandchildren but I would probably not have found these DNA cousins without looking through thousands of matches. ThruLines™ pulled them right up and with the correct connection even though the matches did not have public trees back to the INGRAM common ancestor.

I’m now seeing 63 of my 64 maternal 5th great-grandparents in the ThruLines™. The missing ancestor, Gerard MALAMBRE, was found in other trees with a different surname spelling. It wasn’t a surprise to find all maternal ancestors except this one listed. Not many people who have worked on these lines have their trees on Ancestry. I have very few maternal matches, mostly 5c and 6C, from clusters of descendants of a few immigrant families in America.

The Negative

Ancestry’s New & Improved DNA Matches and ThruLines™ are ignoring my 2nd great-grandparents William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as the parents of my great-grandfather William Henderson DEMPSEY. In the case of this family line, ThruLines™ resembles quick & dirty tree work which shouldn’t be public or searchable unless it has been proven.

Don’t get me wrong. They haven’t changed my tree. People who are new to genealogy research and those who do not know how to use this tool will take this seriously. They will accept these errors without bothering to verify.

Screenshot of Common Ancestors of a match on AncestryDNA. According to Ancestry family trees, these are common ancestors.

The white boxes are actual entries in my tree while the dashed boxes are from information they have knitted in from other trees. The third cousin match has a private tree which likely includes William A. W. DEMPSEY as he is showing up on the match’s side. Why, if we both have this name in our trees, does the common ancestor show up as a Private person three generations further back? Why not William A. W. DEMPSEY?

ThruLines™ shows Emmanuel DEMPSEY of Logan County, West Virginia, as the father of my great-grandfather William Henderson DEMPSEY and this is reflected in the Common Ancestor match above.

I was hoping this new feature would help with my great-grandfather’s father William A. W. DEMPSEY’s brick wall. I was able to get the error above fixed. A person with a large tree likely accepted a Potential Father and Potential Mother and attached the wrong parents to my great-grandfather. The owner is not a direct descendant. The tree is so large I could not figure out how or if he is related.

I placed a comment on the tree with the wrong father for William Henderson DEMPSEY. The tree owner was quick to thank me for the help. He unlinked him and added the correct parents. There are still a few issues which I have further commented on. The owner appears to be willing to work on fixing his tree.

In ThruLines™ Emanuel DEMPSEY, his parents James DEMPSEY and Dorcas HAGER, his grandparents John DEMPSEY and Rachel SOLOMON, as well as the HAGER and VANNATER grandparents, have disappeared as potential ancestors. On a positive note, I was surprised to see this happen overnight.

I’m very disappointed I’m not seeing my 2nd great-grandparents William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as ancestors. There are hundreds of matches who descend from Sarah’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents (WOOD, McGRAW, HONAKER, HONEGGER, WISEMAN, and DAVIS) and they are not being found with the ThruLines™ tool. Matches I need to sift out of the rest to be able to find fourth cousins who descend from William’s unknown parents or more distant cousins who descend from his parents’ ancestors.

Screenshot of my public tree on Ancestry. These are ancestors who were in Circles.

This is not the only 2nd great-grandparent who is missing. My Gordon Washington ROOP was married twice and there are DNA matches coming from both wives. However, ThruLines™ is only recognizing his second wife, the step-mother of my great-grandfather Walter Farmer ROOP. This means I have the wrong potential 3rd, 4th, and 5th great-grandparents. Once again this is a branch of the family which has hundreds of matches, descendants of PETERS, LIVELY, CASH, PROFFITT, ROBERTSON, and COCKRAM. The branch and all other matches are missing. Yes, they are still there but difficult to ferret out.

Screenshot of my public tree on Ancestry. These are ancestors who were in Circles.

What I Am Doing to Make this a Good Experience

This could be a good feature when used correctly. When we find cousins who are DNA matches and fit into our tree we cannot accept the connection without following the records to prove the relationship. I’m worried about the people who accept shaky leaves, potential parents, and now a line back to a potential common ancestor using 2, 3, or 4 trees. I don’t want to throw away the good with the bad. I’ll take a close look at each ancestor and the matches they are supposedly coming from.

I’ve had a public tree with only ancestors linked to the DNA test I manage. I don’t have any other public tree on Ancestry. In the past days, I’ve added known and proven matches to fix some ancestors on the ThruLines.

It’s strange that the lines with the most descendants are not showing up correctly. I’m hoping this might turn out to be more positive – with people cleaning up their trees so that the correct connections get noticed.

My Feedback to Ancestry

  •  I’m finding ThruLines useful in that it pulls up distant matches which would not have been found due to the thousands of matches which are impossible to sift through.
  •  I would not say that it adds value to my Ancestry experience. It only reminds me of the many errors in trees. Mine is not perfect and the reason I  attached a public tree to DNA with only ancestors. In hopes this will help improve ThruLines, I have started to add the siblings of ancestors with DNA connections and the descendants who are DNA matches.
  • Since the public tree I’m using is based on well-researched work on my part, I hope it is being managed appropriately by Ancestry and not being used to suggest false potential ancestors as I am seeing up to 4 different trees are being used to show a line down from a potential to a match.
  • I DO NOT want a quick and easy way to add an ancestor or a match to my tree or anyone else’s tree. I believe people should take time to analyze and then add to the tree. Any trees with quick & dirty work should be made private and unsearchable.
  • I strongly disagree that having a common ancestor with a match is proof that the DNA is coming from this ancestor. The only way this can be proven is by using a chromosome browser for comparing with other matches with the common ancestor.
  • Although I am not overall happy with ThruLines at this early time, I strongly agree that we should check back often as more people take the test.

Final Thoughts

New & Improved DNA Matches gives us the ability to sort matches using colored groups. MyTreeTagsTM should help eliminate the need for strange ancestor names and keep our research and connections to new matches more organized. The lists of matches who descend from common ancestors seen in ThruLines™ will help both our research and proving of ancestors.

Will all the hoopla about these recent additions to the Ancestry experience distract us from the lack of a chromosome browser? Perhaps for a while but I’m still referring matches to my Dear Cousin post.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.